ROSEBURG, Ore. — As a gunman went from classroom to classroom opening fire on students at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College Thursday, Chris Mintz knew he had to do something.
When the gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, tried to enter the army veteran’s class, Mintz, 30, told the students in his classroom to get to a safe place and said, “you’re not getting by me.”
“He ran to the library and pulled the alarms and he was telling people to run, grabbing people, telling them, ‘You just have to go,'” witness Hannah Miles told ABC News.
Witnesses said he charged at the shooter.
“At that point, the shooter shot (Mintz) five times and the shooter moved on and apparently didn’t go in to that classroom,” Pastor Dennis Kreiss told People. “I applaud the guy’s heroism. He may have saved the people in that classroom.”
Seven other people were injured when Mercer opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.
Mintz spent most of Thursday in surgery after receiving seven gunshots during the attack.
Family members said Mintz was able to talk to loved ones before going into surgery, according to WGHP.
“Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times, hits the floor, looks up at gunman and says its my son’s birthday today, gets shot two more times,” Chris’ aunt, Wanda Mintz, told KCPQ.
Mintz told family members he heard gunshots in another classroom and tried to keep the gunman from entering his classroom.
“He could have very easily died,” said Wanda Mintz, the victim’s aunt. “I really think that if he wasn’t such a strong, young guy, he may have died.”
Family members said both of Mintz’s legs are broken and he will have to relearn to walk, but he is now recovering and expected to survive. No vital organs were hit.
Mintz has been in the military for at least 10 years and was in Oregon, primarily, to raise his son, according to his family.
“My brother talked to Chris on the phone while Chris was walking into school to tell him to remind his grandson that grandpa said, ‘Happy Birthday,’” said Wanda Mintz.
Grandfather, father and son spent a week together before Chris began his second year of classes at Umpqua Community College.
Thursday was his fourth day back.
“His vital signs are OK he’s going to have to learn to walk again but he walked away with his life and that’s more than so many other people did,” said Ariana Earnhardt, Chris’ cousin.
In all, the gunman killed least nine people and wounded others. One survivor says the gunman demanded that his victims state their religion before he started shooting. Mercer was eventually shot and killed by police.